30 Years

Tomorrow marks my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. Not many people have had the fortune of being raised by parents who have stayed together that long. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for picking each other wisely and teaching me the value of a strong partnership. Thank you for making my brother and me a reality and putting up with our shenanigans. We all love you dearly and wish you many more years to come!

Acting Your Age

Age does not have a reading level. There are no rules or expectations. I suppose growing up we all share curriculum milestones (like reading in the first grade) and pass certain legal milestones (driving at 16). But even those vary from place to place. I first suffered algebra in fifth grade (I guess most schools teach it in seventh?). Our bodies change at different rates and over different periods of time. The whirlwind of life introduces different things to different people at different times. A classmate of mine skipped high school altogether and graduated USC before he could legally vote or upgrade his provisional driver’s license. Some have children in their teens; others wait until their late thirties. Midlife crises hit anywhere between 31 and 64. The older you get, the more everyone diverges from a standard path.

Age has very little to do with maturity. A man hardly three years older than I runs an international multi-billion dollar company with close to a billion users in his back pocket. We’ve all seen our fair share of childish adults. Maturity can be circumstantial – like playing with friends versus giving a corporate board presentation. It can also be environmental – growing up with only adults around in a large city versus never leaving a small group of friends your age in a rural small town. No matter how life is served to you, age matters very little in the grand scheme of things. You do not need to sit around and wait for some magical date. Put on your game face and go. I’m fortunate to have a game face with real facial hair so that the big kids take me more seriously. But I sincerely hope the course of my life, relationships and accomplishments have had very little to do with that. You have a choice to be who you want to be, when you want to be.

Acting your age? I have no idea what that means.

10 Life Lessons I Learned From My Dad

  1. Politics should not be a war or game. It’s a process – and we’re in it together.
  2. Appreciate everyone. Even if you strongly dislike someone, thank him or her anyway. As genuinely as possible. Gratitude is the social currency of life.
  3. Experiences are more important than possessions. Food and travel make the spirit of life go ‘round.
  4. Marry smart. Find a brilliant woman and do your due diligence. Love is more than lust.
  5. Build something much bigger than yourself – and finish it. My Dad built a city and spent over half of his life doing it. I have a very long way to go.
  6. It’s okay to listen to the same song a million times. If you love something, why stop doing it?
  7. Fictional worlds are healthy. They help you spark imagination, engage with art and escape for a few minutes per day.
  8. Modesty keeps things simple. I can think of no human being more humble than my father. No fuss, no drama, no ego. If any of those things exist in his life, he never brings them home.
  9. Stay Organized. My father keeps more lists, records, photo journals and data on his life than any man I’ve ever met. He forgets very little, tends to important tasks quickly and keeps life together like no other.
  10. Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter this time next year.

I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.

10 Reasons Why My Mom Is Better Than Your Mom

  1. You can talk to her about anything (except maybe computer semantics).
  2. She cares less about jewelry, makeup or fancy houses and more about good art, people, travel and food.
  3. She never says no, but she will give you a good example of why it might be a bad idea.
  4. She is straightforward and honest (no passive aggressive crap).
  5. She can have loads of fun without turning into a sloppy, embarrassing mess (thank you, Mom, for your alcohol tolerance).
  6. She works her ass off and still finds time to feed her family.
  7. She is creative, handy and inventive (I’ve never met a woman who can reuse wine corks like she can).
  8. She puts up with and endorses nerdiness like few other women can.
  9. She stops at nothing to serve her friends, students, coworkers and family.
  10. She never gives up without a fight and always forgives you.

I love you, Mom. Happy Mother’s Day.

Leaving A Data Legacy

I would love to know how my grandparents lived their lives half a century ago. Now that all but one have passed, I’m left with only a few pictures and stories. While there may be a Big Fish fantasy charm to the finite amount of information I have, my curiosity endures.

FoursquareI finally adopted Foursquare in January and checked in nearly a hundred times since. To this day, I struggle to find direct utility in the service (beyond specials, which I have never successfully used). That said, I am a data nut. I appreciate the value of collecting information on my life, whether I do anything with it or not. I’m too lazy to keep a journal, so social and location services help a lot. Despite the fact that my data may be used to serve the gains of others, I (perhaps naively) trust that these services will evolve to capture and interpret the nodes of my life back to me and all who follow.

I am of the camp that sees big data not as a violation of personal privacy, but as a path to building a data legacy. I don’t presume to become wildly famous and expect the world to care what I ate for breakfast yesterday. No, I mean to say that I want to leave slices of history for my children and children’s children to better understand me and the times I live in. Does anybody really care that I had Pad Thai for lunch yesterday? Fuck no. But the next generation might appreciate a rich data set on American dining habits and dietary evolution. My grandchildren might appreciate that Pad Thai is one of my favorite dishes.

Like donating your body to science, I want to donate the computed history of my life to the next generation of sociologists, historians and nostalgics. I want my grandchildren to have access to anything they could possibly want to know about me and learn from my mistakes. We all have an opportunity like never before to contribute to the nuance of our generation’s history books.

So, in spite of all this privacy hooplah, I will continue to check in and contribute to big data through applications and organizations that lend to a long shelf life and value for greater societal context.

Treat Impatience With Patience

Stress and impatience crescendos when met with more stress or impatience. Two impatient fools in a room don’t make a right. When your friend, spouse, child or boss unleash momentary wrath on you, you can fight back and feed the wrath – or go into monk mode and stay calm. If you enjoy conflict and saying things you don’t mean, go ahead and lift your verbal sword. Otherwise, be the better man or woman. Treat impatience with patience.

Embrace Rebellion

Craig’s first rule of parenting: children want to do what they are told not to. Aside from defiance or simple curiosity, I believe evolutionary biology drives our need to question authority. We are programmed from birth to challenge our parents. It’s a part of a natural life cycle: old must replace new and do so better than before to keep the species alive. It is the same reason we champion underdogs, success stories, fresh releases, and overthrows. Change is good, and new is the prerequisite to change. Embrace rebellion; it’s natural.

Thanks Dad!

To all the fathers out there, happy day and congratulations!

My family’s adventures at Disneyland continue. Star Tours was pretty impressive; we look forward to riding it again first thing in the morning.

My parents taught me to spend money on two things: food and travel. My mother inspired my love for food and my father my love for travel. In thanks to this, we organized a nice family vacation this weekend.

I cannot advocate enough for taking a vacation. And I cannot advocate enough for spontaneity. Five days ago, I had no idea I would be with my family, let alone be transported to a mental and physical escape. But everything fell into place, and I have had the best weekend in a long time. Everyone needs a break. Take one for yourself, and give one to others. It’s necessary.

Thanks, Dad. You rule.

To celebrate the other biggest, baddest father in the galaxy – and also to commemorate a family trip to Disneyland – please enjoy this:


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Little Girl Joins The Dark Side – Watch more Funny Videos

Newton’s Three Laws of Parenting

Isaac Newton

While the rules of physics define the physical relationship between objects, I find them particularly relevant when studying the psychological relationship between human beings. Take Newton in regards to parenting:

Law 1: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it.

Every child on a chosen path with remain on that path unless an external force intervenes. Watching your son or daughter turn to the dark side? Do not trust in time to cure all evils; you may need to step in. Watching your son or daughter struggle to meet their goals? Friends, laws, cash flow, distractions, and many other “external forces” will slow your child down. Be involved and give him or her an extra push when necessary. Obvious, no?

Law 2: Acceleration is produced when a force acts on a mass. The greater the mass of the object being accelerated, the greater the amount of force needed to accelerate the object.

The greater the pressure exerted on a child, the more likely he or she will “accelerate.” Having trouble waking your child for school in the morning? Getting him or her to do homework? Stop playing video games? Avoid hard drugs? Come home before curfew? You can push harder and harder on your child to get the results you expect, but the hounding may have consequences we will explore in Law #3.

How about peer pressure? The more friends goad or tempt your child, the more likely your child will go along with it. Or what about motivation? Some children need a brighter spark to inspire them. Why would some children need a bigger nudge? Physics would tell us it’s because they have greater “mass.” Nothing to do with obesity, I think the “mass” in this equation has a lot to do with your child’s individuality. If he or she is true to him or herself – a defined individual with defined interests and characteristics – then he or she will be much less swayed by you or others. Some children may be stubborn and defiant, others down to earth and cultured. In either case, children with richer individuality are much more difficult to sell.

Law 3: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

My favorite rule of the three, and the one I think baby boomers overlooked the most: if you act on your child, expect a reaction. Discipline is difficult for every parent. Depending on how you do it, you can make things much worse. Without justifying your demands in terms your child can appreciate, be prepared for him or her to fight back or deviate further. The more force you exert on the situation (screaming, violence, etc.), the greater the reaction you should expect. Explicitly forbidding your children from doing things may be a recipe for disaster.

I have seen it a handful of times: alocoholic parents punishing their children for drinking underage. The result? The children lose respect for their parents and drink harder. For punishment to be effective, you need to hold credibility with your child. Personal experiences, stories, and statistics all help your case better than “go to your room” or “give me your car keys.”

Children usually know when they make mistakes and punishment is usually superfluous. Teaching consequence is important, but make sure consequences are related to the infraction. Eating a cookie before dinner has nothing to do with watching television. When children do not believe they did anything wrong, it is senseless to yell and accuse them of it – they will just villainize you for it and refuse to see your point of view. Find a more clever way to make your point. Or expect an equal and opposite reaction. Physics, baby.

Do You Shampoo Your Beard?

Justin Hamilton asked me if I shampoo my beard. It struck me as a peculiar question. Not because it was inappropriate or unnerving, but because it had never come up in conversation before.

Should you shampoo your beard? Facial hair is still hair and warrants the same care as your scalp, right? No one ever taught me one way or the other.

There are many lessons about adulthood we are not taught growing up. Sex education comes early, but we are hardly taught extracurricular adulthood mechanics thereafter – until we suffer hard truths. Categories of insurance. The civil court system. Property ownership. Credit. Taxes! Taxes are a basic American responsibility and we are all accountable. Why do so few people understand them?

Tax education should be mandatory prior to graduating high school. As should many of these other things I mentioned, whether taught in school or the home. Many adulthood chores do not get discussed until it is too late and we are not prepared. Unruly beard hair is not as dramatic as providing proof of death for a life insurance claim, but they both fall into the same batch of conversation topics failing to surface until we have to waste time and energy decoding them on our own.

To answer the question, I shampoo my beard roughly twice a week.

[EDIT for the Ladies:  I soap my beard/face everyday. I don’t shampoo everyday, it seems like overkill.]